Act!vated Story Theatre

Study Guides for Multicultural Folktale Shows

The information on this page is provided to help teachers prepare for the show and provide post-show discussion points and follow-up activities that support Common Core State Standards.

Jump to activities for : Preparing | During | Before or After | After | Culminating Projects


Each presentation is 45 minutes long and includes two multicultural folktales. You may use the activities on this page to prepare your students for the program. The links for in depth study guides for each story are provided below.

Act!vatedly Yours,
Dennis and Kimberly

  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Hina Moves to the Moon

Discussion Points to Prepare Students for the Performance

Background Information

Act!vated Virtual Program is presented by 2 professional performers and filmed from multiple camera angles.

Actors rehearse for months to learn their parts in the show. They must know their lines and be able to portray multiple characters. They must also be able to sing, dance and perform physical tricks and stunts.

The Act!vated Actors, Dennis and Kimberly Goza have worked together producing theatre since 1988. On stage they are a whirlwind of action; incorporating a wide variety of performance art skills to entertain, educate and inspire. Off stage, Dennis writes the scripts and composes the music for the shows. Kimberly sews the pages for the giant book, makes the costumes, choreographs and directs. Since 1992, the husband and wife team have driven across the continental U.S. 365 days a year in an RV calling wherever they park “home”.


The performers use American Sign Language in addition to voice to tell the stories on stage. Discuss American Sign Language with your students. What is it? Who uses it?

Theatre vs Film/TV

The audience plays a dynamic and essential role in live theatre. Theatre is a two-way street, much like a dialogue between two people. The audience transmits an energy and responses that affect the actors’ performance.

Being a member of an audience is a shared experience. Laughing together and seeing a show as a group creates a social bond.

Theatre Vocabulary

Discuss and define theatre and the following terms: play, actor, costume, set, prop or property, stage, audience, pantomime, physical comedy

Review the following terms and parts of a story: characters, setting, plot, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end

Ask students to listen carefully so they will be able to answer simple, factual, objective questions such as who, what, where, or when. After the show they will be able to ask the actors questions during their classroom zoom session.

What is a Folktale

Define and discuss what a folktale is. (A folktale is a story passed down from generation to generation.) How does a folktale differ from a made up story, fairytale, legend or myth? What is the same about all of these genres?

Read and/or listen to one or more of the folktales with the students.

Objectives During the Performance

  1. Throughout the performance students will be applying listening and observation skills to recall and interpret information.
  2. As a member of the audience they will respond to the speaker with encouraging nonverbal communication (e.g., sitting still and watching the speaker).
  3. They will develop an understanding of story sequence.
  4. They will see that literature represents different cultures and traditions.
  5. They will learn new vocabulary and possibly some foreign words.
  6. They will observe American Sign Language and other forms of non-verbal communication, such as dance and pantomime.

Before OR After the Show

These activities can be used to prepare students for the show or as post-show follow-up.

Have the students check out folktales from the school library to read in class. Ask them to look for books with j398.2 (Dewey Decimal System) on the spine. You can explain how to find the spine of the book to younger students by telling them to open their arms wide and pretend to be a book. Then act out a book opening and closing by opening and closing their arms. Next ask them where their spine is and point out it is in the same place on a book.

Learn some American Sign Language using books, videos or on the Internet. Adopt a few ASL signs to use every day in the classroom.

Have the students retell folktales to the class.

Children act out stories before they learn to read. Ask students to act out a folktale as you read it to the class.

After the Show

Conversational, oral language, listening and observation skills

Have the students retell the important events in the stories with the correct sequence of events.

Ask questions (who, what, where, why, when, how) about the show and the stories.

Solicit feedback and ask them to expand upon what they say by making personal connections.

Discuss the setting, characters, problems, solutions and events in the stories.

Compare and contrast the two stories. What is the common theme in both stories? What are the similarities and differences between characters, settings and important events?

Continue the classroom discussion while the students draw pictures of a scene from the show.

Hold a class discussion about ASL. See if anyone remembers any signs from the show.

Ask the guest star(s) to demonstrate what they learned in the preshow workshop to the rest of the class.

Develop reading and writing skills:

Immediately after the show, ask the class to brainstorm a list of things they thought about the show and write the list on the board. Then ask the students to individually write a letter. They may address the letters to one of the characters from the show or to one or both of the actors. They may use ideas from the list the class created or come up with their own. The performers are typically on campus for at least forty-five minutes after each show striking the set and loading out. It should be possible to hand-deliver any letters or artwork. The performers will check with the office on their way out. If you want to leave them there they can pick them up.

Use a graphic organizer to state the main idea of one of the stories and list important details. Complete one together with the class, before having each student do one for the other story.

Character descriptions. Write the names of the main characters on the board. With the class list 10 adjectives below each that describe that character. Have each student choose a character and write a paragraph explaining why they liked that character and compare themselves to that character.

Culminating Projects

These projects take more time and dedication but are well worth the effort.

Readers Theatre Project

Practice reading, speaking and theatre skills by having the class work together on presenting a story. The tale of Orpheus (.pdf) is available for classroom use (10-30 students). It may be produced as simply or as elaborately as you like. Arrange to have the students perform for another class or parents if possible.

Podcasting Stories

Students expand reading, vocabulary, listening and speaking skills, while communicating with a worldwide audience; learn about sound (science) and work with electronic media.

Folktale Book Writing Project

As a culminating project, students write their own folktale-inspired story, perhaps combining two folktales to create a new story or making themselves the main character. Each student reads his or her story and solicits feedback from the class, then rewrites the story elaborating on ideas, adding descriptive words, making improvements and corrections. The final versions of the stories can be put together in a book and published using sites such as which will print them at cost and on demand. Art work may be included (black and white is best). Order a copy for your school or community library and invite parents to order copies for their children as well (you may choose to use this project as a fundraiser or just order the books at cost). Don't forget to have the contributors sign the library copy at a book-signing party once it arrives. And please let us know about it - we'd love to see what your students came up with!

Listen to Activated Stories Podcast

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